Judged as ‘Excellent’ by Estyn (Education and Training Inspectorate for Wales), Coleg Elidyr provides young adults with moderate to severe learning difficulties and disabilities with unique opportunities to improve their lives. We are the only further education college in Wales to have been formally accredited by the National Autistic Society. Typically, around half of our students have autism and we recognise that the practice we have in place to support them is of benefit to all students and staff.
Opportunities and support for learning and personal development at Coleg Elidyr span daily education sessions and residential living environments. House managers and the Heads of programmes work closely to ensure students are given every opportunity to flourish.
College life is underpinned by our commitment to Total Communication. This ensures all students are given every opportunity to understand and to be understood. A breadth of communication resources and approaches along with a recognition of individual communication needs and preferences, not only empowers individuals to maximise their achievements at College but ensures that individuals are best prepared for post-college adult living and the challenges that may bring.
The curriculum at Coleg Elidyr was originally inspired by the educational and social philosophies of Rudolf Steiner and Karl König. It emphasises experiential, practical learning and offers a blend of practical skills, arts and crafts and skills for independent living that aims to enable the learner to move from doing to understanding and from experience to knowledge. Through living, learning and working together, each individual has the opportunity to develop his or her own skills and abilities and can grow in self -esteem and confidence. Work experiences on the college site and with local businesses and organisations are integral to each individual’s timetable.
Each student follows a personalised learning programme according to their own abilities, needs and aspirations. Coleg Elidyr Camphill communities currently offers two formal programmes through the Foundation Education programme and the Trainee and Transition programme. We provide up to 52 weeks per annum residential provision on the College site and in Victoria House in nearby Llangadog. We also provide supported living opportunities through our wholly-owned subsidiary company Towy Valley Care.
Foundation education and Trainee programmes
Foundation Education Programme
Contingent upon individual education and training needs, the Foundation Education programme spans two academic years. Where, the complexities of an individual’s learning needs are deemed to require it, and contingent upon the approval of funding, this can sometimes be extended to a three year placement.
The programme has an important focus on experiential learning. The college farm, garden, shop, craft workshops and work experience opportunities provide a broad range of learning opportunities. Learners experience a carousel of learning in Year 1 to inform their choice of learning pathways in Year 2. These include hospitality, retail and catering, land and craft-based learning. Personal Development and Citizenship (PDC) sessions and the development of ICT and essential skills are also integral to the programme.
Combining both accredited and unaccredited learning, holistic personal development is integral to the Coleg Elidyr foundation programme. Working closely with individual learners, House managers, tutors and learning support assistants, comprehensive individual learning programmes (ILP’s) are created by the Head of Education. These include short, medium and long term targets to build individuals’ knowledge, skills, confidence and self-esteem in preparation for post-college adult living.
Providing a stepping stone to increased independence and autonomy to enable individuals to live fulfilling lives and make a positive contribution to their community, the Trainee programme at Coleg Elidyr is a personalised programme for young people with a wide range of learning difficulties and disabilities. Applicants typically will have completed the College’s foundation education programme and a recognition has been made that s/he requires further support to develop the skills acquired to successfully live and work within their communities in their post-college lives.
With a focus on employability and independence, key components of the programme include:
- residential placement;
- individually tailored programmes;
- 41 weeks per year provision which can be extended during holiday periods;
- training in vocational skills leading to supported work placements within the college. For example, working in the college bed & breakfast facility, shop, farm and garden. The transferring of these skills to external work placements as appropriate;
- therapeutic and clinical support as required, including Speech and Language Therapy, Occupational Therapy, & Clinical Psychology;
- Targeted independent living skills development, including learning to manage leisure time through developing individual interests and hobbies.
See our admissions pages for details on how to apply or arrange an informal visit.
The creation of therapeutic learning environments through craft-based sessions is an important and integral component of our curriculum.
Promoting a sense of balance and well-being our craft curriculum provides a breadth of opportunities for sensory integration to enhance the development of skills and knowledge. We recognise that for many of our students, connecting with others is a challenge which can result in isolation and poor self-image. We also know that rhythmical and sensory experiences create environments where students can feel safe to build their communication skills and self-confidence.
Craft areas include a weavery, woodwork and green woodwork, candlework, leatherwork, soapmaking, printing and art and design.
Craft workshops are a natural arena for multisensory experiences. The smell of the wool, wood or perfumed soaps, the palette of colours used in printing and weaving, the feel of mosaic tiles, embossed card or leather, the noise of the hammer stamping leather or a saw cutting wood. Working alongside others, sharing processes can forge a bond without the initial need for direct, face to face interaction. Craft work can enable connections with peers, – turn taking, respecting differences and other social skills can all be practiced.
Weaving and spinning, along with the associated wool processing activities, is by its nature a rhythmical and practical activity. As such, it ideally lends itself to a holistic multisensory approach to learning – where learning is engaged through ’doing’ and ‘creating’. – A. Morgan, Craft Tutor – Weavery.
‘Woodwork allows students the opportunity to use a variety of sharp and heavy hand tools safely and effectively. This is a transferrable skill that they might use in a home environment or future work placement. It teaches a student about approaching risk and challenge with safety, reducing hazards and eliminating danger through following a process of important instructions.’- L Flindall – Craft Tutor Woodwork
Personal Development and Citizenship (PDC)
Our Personal Development and Citizenship curriculum incorporates key aspects of Personal, Social and Health Education (PHSE) such as sex and relationships, Equality and Diversity and healthy living.
Delivery is tailored to individual’s needs through timetabled sessions, house Independent Living Skills (ILS), one to one tutorial sessions. Also incorporated is the Duke of Edinburgh Award in which all learners are encouraged and supported to engage and which includes an expedition for those learners in their final year.
Duke of Edinburgh award
Topics covered include;
- The Duke of Edinburgh Award
- Good attitudes for work/employability
- Welsh culture
- Drugs and alcohol
- Healthy living
- Equality and diversity
- Personal skills
- Rights and responsibilities
- Sex and relationships.
- CV preparation and destination planning
The College farm and garden are part of what makes Coleg Elidyr a unique and positive learning environment for our students.
Land based studies offer many meaningful opportunities for learning and the acquisition of vocational skills. In weighing out animal feed, checking animal welfare, installing fencing, chopping logs, helping to maintain the college grounds or cultivating herbs and vegetables in the kitchen garden, learners can apply literacy and numeracy skills and demonstrate responsibility within a context that is purposeful and age appropriate. Equally, working in such close proximity to the land allows students to follow all stages in the natural process, as each season gives way to another. The rhythms of the seasons help to connect the learners to the natural world and offer a holistic experience of living and learning that is therapeutic in the most fundamental sense.
Hospitality and Retail
Our Hospitality and Retail learning pathway, provides students with the opportunity to focus development on independence, employability and essential skills.
Our Bed and Breakfast facility Ty Collen provides students with a wide range of vocational learning opportunities. This includes managing bookings, preparing rooms for guests, cooking breakfasts and other catering for college visitors.
The development of independence and essential skills is an important element of this pathway, particularly in our college shop. Students are involved in ordering and rotating stock as well as delivering orders to the six residential houses.
It is here that students build their skills and knowledge of vocational learning in preparation for external work placements.
Mindful that our students are with us for a comparably short time in their lives, we aim to do all we can to prepare students for post-college life. To do this we identify and pursue work-experience opportunities in line with individuals’ interests and aspirations.
All our students engage in a wide range of work experience placements both onsite and with local organisations and businesses including the National Botanic Gardens of Wales, Aberglasney House and Gardens, Lleuest Pony Trust and Many Tears Animal Rescue.
We also work very closely with an award winning local social enterprise Myddfai Trading which supplies luxury toiletries for the hospitality industry through the provision of meaningful work experience and volunteering opportunities for people with learning difficulties and disabilities.
All our students are supported in developing their personal CV’s so that they can take evidence of their knowledge and skills with them as they progress their post-college adult lives. In recognition of the work they have done, all eligible students are supported in achieving ‘Millennium Volunteers’ Certification.